South Bend has a rich history when it comes to the automobile and transportation industry. Interestingly, one of the most well-known car manufacturers in Indiana began in South Bend in 1852 when Henry Studebaker set up a wagon shop there. Studebaker would eventually become the world’s largest wagon builder and the only one to successfully transition to an automobile maker. The manufacturing sector of the economy remained strong throughout the twentieth century and provided many good paying jobs for South Bend residents for years.
However, four-wheeled vehicles aren’t the only means of transportation that matter to the city. In fact, South Bend has a large group of motorcycle enthusiasts and has many shops that provide the latest and greatest in motorcycle technology. Not only that, but with the St. Joseph River winding throughout the area, the city provides wonderful views for those enjoying the roadway on a motorcycle.
Riding a motorcycle can be a very enjoyable experience and allows the rider to experience nature while getting from place to place. However, this freedom can come at a cost. Without the benefit of modern day safety devices such as seat belts and air bags, motorcycle accidents can be particularly devastating.
Here are a few steps South Bend motorcyclists can take to increase their chances of coming home safely after a ride.
1. Wear a Helmet
The best advice our motorcycle attorneys can give you is to wear a helmet and invest in other appropriate gear.
Cars come with seat belts and air bags and are built to absorb a certain amount of impact in the event of a car crash. Motorcycles, on the other hand, leave riders exposed and vulnerable. Extra safety features must be purchased separately and are more often than not applied to the rider, not the bike itself.
Indiana law doesn’t require you to wear a motorcycle helmet if you’re over the age of 18. Still, we recommend that you purchase one. Helmets are nearly 37 percent effective at preventing motorcycle deaths and are about 67 percent effective at preventing brain injuries. In Indiana in 2015, 58 percent of riders involved in a fatal motorcycle accident weren’t wearing a helmet.
Beyond helmets, you should consider investing in other gear as well. Eye protection, ear plugs, jackets and pants or full body suits, and even special gloves and boots may increase your chances of survival in the event of a motorcycle accident.
2. Prepare for South Bend Weather
There are a couple weeks in October where South Bend is a paradise for motorcyclists who want to ride around in nice weather admiring the changing leaves. But most of the year, South Bend weather is anything but friendly to motorcyclists. Extreme humidity and heat in the summer is followed by blustery showers in the fall, and icy roads and feet of lake-effect snow are never far behind. Sometimes, heat and rain and snow happen within the same week. In Indiana, and especially in the lake-effect region South Bend is in, weather is anything but predictable.
To make sure the weather doesn’t get you down, keep your bike in good condition. Bad weather will only exacerbate worn out tires or other components of your bike that need to be fixed or replaced. You also need to wear gear that’s appropriate for the weather but still keeps you safe. A t-shirt may feel amazing on a 90-degree July day, but you need to wear an appropriate jacket if you want to ride your bike. Conversely, make sure your gear is waterproof in case you get caught in a heavy rain.
Visibility is also important in bad weather. Not only do you need to be able to see, but you need to be seen by others. Wearing a helmet comes in handy because the visor can protect your vision. Trade your tinted visor for a clear one when you anticipate bad weather or when the sun has set. To make sure others can see you, ditch the all-black leather gear and opt for gear in brighter colors. If you can’t bear to part with your dark aesthetic, consider putting reflective tape on your motorcycle instead.
You should also consider investing in an anti-lock braking system (ABS). ABS comes standard on most passenger vehicles, but it’s typically sold separately when you purchase a motorcycle. Still, it’s worth it in places like South Bend to have a system that keeps your wheels from locking up.
3. Ride Safely
There are many highways running through South Bend. It may be tempting on a long, fairly straight road like State Road 2 to see just how fast your bike can go.
That’s never a good idea. As a motorcyclist, you always need to be riding defensively and taking extra precautions. You have to obey traffic laws just like everyone else.
Keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you. You may take longer to stop than other vehicles, especially if the weather is poor. Keep that in mind if you find yourself behind a vehicle that’s moving slowly and avoid the temptation to tailgate.
Also, if you and a friend want to ride on your motorcycles together and ride side by side in one lane, you’re legally allowed to do so. Just don’t split lanes and ride down the white or yellow line between two lanes of traffic just because your vehicle is small enough to fit. Lane splitting is not only incredibly dangerous, but it’s also illegal in Indiana.
Help from an Indiana Motorcycle Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one has been injured in a South Bend motorcycle accident, contact an experienced Indiana motorcycle accident attorney at Hensley Legal Group today. We have helped many Hoosiers just like you who have been involved in a motorcycle accident get what they deserve. Call us today or contact us online for a free consultation.